In Memoriam: Mike Lull
Very sad news to report today: bass builder Mike Lull has passed away at the age of 65. A cause of death was not announced. The news was shared on the Mike Lull Custom Guitars Facebook page.
“It is with tremendous sadness that we share that our great leader and company’s founder, Mike Lull, unexpectedly passed away on the 12th of February, 2020,” they wrote. “Mike was a visionary and inspiration for the Music community, and he left his indelible mark on every instrument he ever touched and every customer he ever helped. In fact, Mike never considered anyone ‘customers’, they were all his friends. Mike’s dedicated staff and family will be carrying on his legacy as this is what Mike wanted. If you would like to send your condolences, feel free to reach out at [email protected] or stop by the shop at any time.”
Lull was born in Eugene, Oregon in 1954 and got his first job repairing guitars when he was just sixteen years old. In fact, he built his first bass even before that.
“I built my first bass guitar in ninth grade shop class because my parents wouldn’t let me buy one,” Lull told us in a 2011 interview. “I was always taking shop classes and was really good with my hands, but I said ‘You know, I really want to play bass guitar,’ and they said, ‘No, no, it’s not a real instrument.’ This is the middle-60’s, by the way. They said, ‘It’s not a real instrument. You can play the upright bass or you can play the guitar.’ So I chose the guitar, but in the back of my mind I’m going, ‘I’m gonna get this bass guitar, you watch.'”
In 1976, he opened Mike Lull’s Guitar Works in Bellevue, Washington. His business quickly flourished and became even more prominent in the 90s as bands from the Pacific Northwest’s grunge scene came through his shop. The artists would name drop him in interviews, leading to more business. A glowing review in Bass Player magazine gave Lull the confidence to further his craft. “They did an article on me and my shop here as a luthier, and from there asked me to send a 4-string for review,” he said. “Then they did a review on one of my 5-strings and it just snowballed. It got bigger and bigger, so I decided, ‘I should really take this building thing seriously. I think I can really make this into something.'”
Lull’s basses are known for taking a familiar design and modernizing some aspects and improving playability. They are played by a wide range of artists including Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament, Tom Petersson, Eric “Pik Funk” Smith, Randy Jackson, Hugh McDonald, and more.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Mike Lull.